I was teaching a drug education course to parents the night of 9/11. Carolyn rang me to tell me what had happened and I stood there dumbfounded trying to comprehend it.
I watched the live tv feed from the US for hours that night as the drama unfolded and was repeated over and over.
The scenes were horrifying, compelling, amazing and shocking. It was hard to believe it had happened. It's still hard to believe it. Seeing the planes hit still makes me shudder. Seeing the towers crumbling is still mind blowing.
The anniversary has passed fairly quietly here, not a lot of discussion or comment from people on the street. The footy finals and Peter Brock's death raised more interest.
There have been movies and documentaries on TV but they haven't exactly been riveting television.
The real question is what have we learned from and since September 11?
I don't have answers, or even much in the way of suggestions, but I do have a couple of opinions.
The first is that the war on terror is an unwinnable war. In fact it is completely counter-productive. Every "terrorist" the US kills spawns another hundred ready to take their place. There are suicide bombings and attacks throughout the middle east, Europe and elsewhere happening every day. The world is not safer, it is clearly more dangerous. A bus ride or a family holiday have become fraught with risk.
The war on terror can't be won so long as it's fought with conventional weapons and tactics.
The war can only be won when we recognise the cause and reasons for the terrorism in the first place and address those.
There is incredible injustice in the world.
There is a complete imbalance of wealth, resources and power concentrated in the west and hardship, disease, lack of basic human needs like clean water, medicine and food in places all over the world.
The west exploits the rest of the world and it's resources for our own comfort and pleasure, growing richer and fatter while the world grows poorer.
Unless we address and respond to these basic needs, there will always be resentment, anger and violence towards the west.
Without the will to change the world, the world will continue to suffer and people will die at the hands of terrorists.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not sticking up for terrorists or justifying their actions, but it is hardly surprising that there is huge resentment when we truly acknowledge the imbalances in the world.
In response to 9/11 the US rained bombs on Afghanistan and other places, invaded Iraq and continues to take a hard line military approach. Britain and Australia have followed along behind obediently.
I didn't pose this suggestion but I'd love to see what would happen if it were taken up.
Someone asked in the early stages when the military response was just cranking up, "What if we just dropped money on Afghanistan instead of bombs?"
It's an interesting question!
The irony is, it would have been cheaper!!
There have been heinous crimes committed and people should be brought to justice, but it is naivety to think that all the wrongs have been perpetrated by the "terrorists" and "muslims" and "arabs" and "foreigners".
The west has blood on it's hands too.
There is no innocent party, there has been wrong committed on both sides.
The answer is not more bombs bullets and missiles.
The answer surely lies in a different direction, where support, understanding, cooperation, mutual assistance, sharing of resources, peace making are the key strategies, not protecting oil, resources and vested interests.
Sure as eggs, money is the number one driving force behind most decisions made and actions taken.
It's certainly not the sanctity of human life, the pursuit of goodness and a fair and just world for ALL.
The reality is we place way more value on a western life or death than we do on an eastern one.
Don't believe me? Check the TV hours/newspaper footage devoted to one western life compared to an African or a Russian or a Palestinian or a ...
I don't have the answers, but I know what we're currently doing is not working and will never work. The anger resentment and hatred towards the US and the west, including Australia, is growing not diminishing.
Some where in this crazy mess we have to call a time-out and honestly ask whether we're headed in the right direction, and if we're not, what are we going to do about it.
I feel sad for the 3000 Americans who died on Sep 11. I feel sad for their families.
But, they are not the most important or only people to have died in this "war" and the way it's being fought, they certainly won't be the last.